Why I Couldn’t Quite Romance Thane in “Mass Effect”

This is a big confession about my Bioware romance choices, guys. It’s also very spoiler-filled, so exit this page if you haven’t played Mass Effect and want to go in blind!

I’ll be honest: I had some spoilers about the romance options in Mass Effect 2 before I played the game. I got into Mass Effect a little late and was new to the whole Bioware romance thing — I’d only played Dragon Age: Origins at that point — so I wanted to know what I was getting into. Though I didn’t do a ton of research, I did take a look at some pictures, and the second I saw Thane Krios in ME2, I knew he was the one I wanted to romance.

I had already romanced Kaidan Alenko in the first game, but in ME2 I got ready to pounce on the new drell assassin who was available for my Shepard to love. When I met him in the game, I got even more excited. He is badass with a great voice. What’s not to like?

thanewithglassesBut then I started talking to the guy. I developed this immense respect for him, which is good — except it came at a cost. What he likes to talk about most is his former wife Irikah. Because drell have eidetic memory, Thane could recall every moment he shared with his wife in vivid detail, as if it were happening right then. It was kind of intense. Very romantic. It just wasn’t about my Shepard. It felt like Thane had already experienced the love of his life.

That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have another love, now that she’s passed away — but then I got hit with a new factoid: Thane is also dying. He suffers from a disease, which is caused by drell living on dry planets when they are built for humidity. That would be difficult to accept but fine, it still could have been an epic romance in his last days.

And then came the biggest slam: Thane is searching for his estranged son. He wants to reconnect with him before he dies. That’s a big task for anyone, and it’s one of love.

Thane_Character_BoxI just realized that Thane is this amazing, badass guy who has had an exceptional life full of romance and drama and love. Now, in his last days, the most important thing for him is forming a relationship with his son. Second to that is having a final purpose. Shepard gives him that when he joins the Normandy and helps save the galaxy.

I like the idea of Shepard also offering him a friendship that he craves before he has to go. He doesn’t need romance anymore — he’s had that, and I don’t think anything new will top it — but his relationship with Shepard is still incredibly intense. Even after deciding he wasn’t the right romantic fit for my Shepard — I fell for Garrus more naturally in the game, and it was amazing — I found Thane’s storyline one of the most moving in the Mass Effect series. It was love of another kind.


4 thoughts on “Why I Couldn’t Quite Romance Thane in “Mass Effect””

  1. Awww, that’s very kind and gracious of you, to invest in Thane emotionally, in a different and supportive way. Good for you!

    It certainly goes to show how immersive and “real” these games are, to elicit such complicated emotional reactions.

  2. I’m in a somewhat similar place. I adore Thane (he’s possibly my favourite Mass Effect character; sort of tied with Tali, Mordin, and Traynor), but I’ve never romanced him and never will. Instead, he is a very close and respected friend of my Shepard.

    My reasoning is a bit different, though. Personally I’ve just always had a problem with sci-fi romances between humans and aliens who are very different from humans. It just doesn’t make sense to me. For all the romanticism around the concept of love, when you get down to it it’s still a function of biology. I just don’t buy that a creature as obviously alien as Thane could be physically or psychologically compatible with a human.

    Also, while I’m wearing my pedantic nerd cap, I’ll point out you’ve got it backwards. Drell come from a desert world, and the humidity of the Hanar world, where most of them live, is what destroys their lungs.

    1. Oh thanks for the correction! Got it mixed up there. I don’t really have an issue with the physical or psychological differences between humans and aliens in terms of romance. Obviously those on the Normandy are conveniently humanoid, which makes them easier to relate to, and if Shepard and these alien characters can become not just allies but close friends, I don’t see why romance is out of the question. I guess I don’t see them as ‘very different,’ I think Bioware purposely made them very similar to humans instead.

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